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Facebook has admitted that the company has been listening to some users’ conversations following a recent investigation.
Yesterday (August 13), Bloomberg reported that the social media platform had been gathering members’ personal Messenger voice chats and hiring third-party contractors to transcribe the exchanged audio.
The Mark Zuckerberg co-founded site told the publication that those affected had opted into the practice, though it’s been noted that the recording and subsequent transcription of audio is not disclosed in the company’s data-use policies.
Facebook said that they had recently “paused” the practice, which, according to Bloomberg, is used to check the accuracy of automated speech-recognition systems. There is currently no evidence to suggest that information gained has been collected to sell advertising.
Speaking to Vice News, a Facebook spokesperson said that this practice was “very common in tech” before recent reports found that other companies such as Google, Apple, and Amazon were also listening in on what their users were saying.
The recent findings follow Bloomberg‘s report in April, which revealed that Amazon were listening to what customers told their Alexa smart devices. In July, over 1,000 audio files recorded by Google were obtained, with the company admitting that they went under review from employees. Apple is also said to have recorded commands given to its Siri feature, in order to improve its accuracy in responding and feeding back relevant information.
Each company has stated that their users cannot be identified from the audio, and that it is not a method of targeting personalised adverts.
Meanwhile, the messenger services of Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram are set to be merged into a unified entity. It was reported that Facebook were aiming to complete the work needed to make the plans possible by early 2020.